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In re N.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 5, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF N.W., Minor Child, C.W., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F. Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          AFFIRMED. Ryan P. Tang of Law Office of Ryan P. Tang P.C., Marion, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, N.W., arguing the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence and termination is not in the child's best interests. We review these claims de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). In doing so, we are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, although we give them weight, especially those concerning witness credibility. See id.

         N.W. was removed from the mother's care shortly after birth due to concerns about the mother's substance abuse. Although the mother's older child had been adjudicated to be a child in need of assistance (CINA) in 2016 due to the mother's use of methamphetamine while the child was in her care, the mother had failed to engage in substance-abuse treatment before N.W.'s birth. The mother tested positive for methamphetamine and cocaine while pregnant with N.W., and N.W. tested positive for methamphetamine and cocaine at birth.

         The juvenile court adjudicated N.W. to be a CINA. When the mother failed to address her substance-abuse issues during the CINA proceedings, the State filed a petition seeking to terminate the mother's parental rights to N.W. Following a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights to N.W. pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2017).

         In order to terminate parental rights, the juvenile court must first find clear and convincing evidence supporting one of the grounds for termination listed under Iowa Code section 232.116(1). See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). To terminate a parent's rights under section 232.116(1)(h), clear and convincing evidence must establish the following:

(1) The child is three years of age or younger.
(2) The child has been adjudicated a [CINA] pursuant to section 232.96.
(3) The child has been removed from the physical custody of the child's parents for at least six months of the last twelve months, or for the last six consecutive months and any ...

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